The Batwa – Uganda’s “first people” – were nomadic hunter-gatherers who developed advanced hunting and trapping methods. Their profound knowledge of the forest allowed them to harvest honey, fruit and roots to use produce food, medicine and shelter. But when the forest became a national park, the Batwa were moved out. Now, the Batwa Trail is their only chance to return to their ancestral home.
La Nomadita has a “Lord of the Flies” moment with the boy hunters of the Choco rainforest, Ecuador
It’s appropriate that reaching the Himba involves such an arduous journey across Namibia. Arriving at the settlement, I realised life here was as far removed from my own as I could imagine, and the punishing journey was first test at leaving my comfortable, western lifestyle to enter another, more primal world, where human movements are dictated by nature, and not the other way around.
This woman belongs to the Himba tribe of the Kunene, an arid, rocky wasteland in northwestern Namibia. Her temporary hut is simple, hastily constructed from poles of wood and plastered earth, as red on the inside as the woman herself. Aside from her plentiful jewellery, crafted from leather and metal, she wears only a goatskin skirt, smeared ochre over time.
Juan hand-rolled the fat cigar in front of us in the little wooden hut. The leaves had been fermented for four months with honey, vanilla and just a little rum, and smelled delicious enough to eat. Juan took a small bundle of leaves, rolled them and held them in place with paper. Dark brown leaves from the inside of the plant were then rolled diagonally around it, and the classic form of the Cuban cigar appeared before my eyes.
The Amazon at night is an ebony underworld, a place where strange creatures awake while the rest of the world slumbers. The faint jungle hum that persists throughout the day reaches a squealing crescendo at dusk.
Fidel, strutting around in a broad cowboy hat, greets me as if I am an old friend. We have, in fact, just met – but he is to be my new “dad” for the week, as I will be staying in his immaculate little bungalow in western Cuba. Here, donkeys and oxen are as ubiquitous as the 1950s cars, and the swaying tips of banana plants peek above the colourfully painted houses.